Monday, April 15, 2013

Henrik's records 605th career assist, continues to climb the all-time list

A week after recording his 600th career assist in a game against the Flames, Henrik Sedin has continued his climb among the league's best playmakers of all-time.  Assisting on Ryan Kesler's powerplay goal less than two minutes into the game, Henrik passed Nordique Hall of Famer Michel Goulet as the 73rd most prolific playmaker in NHL history.  And at 606 assists, the Canucks captain stands nine helpers behind yet another Hall member, Rod Gilbert, who represents the next rung on the NHL's all-time assists ladder.

Henrik eclipsed the former Nordique and Blackhawk forward's
604 assists in 155 fewer games. 

With six games remaining, Henrik has a remote chance at catching Goulet, but his assist-per-game days are a couple years behind him, let alone the capacity for nine in that span.  As such, he'll likely end the 2013 season in his current position. 

To be fair, 73rd doesn't do a whole to to capture the imagination.  The Sedins are several years from making any truly elite all-time achievements, if at all.  But when you've been as good for as long as Henrik has been in a single statistical category, the names you pass do carry some degree of weight to them.  So who besides Goulet has Henrik surpassed in this shortened campaign?   Beginning the season at 82nd with 576 career assists, Henrik has passed nine of the NHL's top 81 playmakers of all-time, four of which are Hall of Famers.

So to pay homage to each passing assists total, here are Henrik's eight previous conquests this season...

Dave Babych, 581 assists
Back in February, Henrik set up Chris Tanev's memorable first career goal for his 6th assist of the season and 582nd of his career.  And by jumpstarting one defenceman's statistical career, he put another in his rear-view mirror in Dave Babych.  Believe it or not, Henrik and the former Canucks rearguard missed playing alongside each other by just two years (Babych last played for Vancouver in 1998).  Just imagine the contrast that might have been with that 'stache and the Sedins' chubby faces sitting on the same bench.

Paul Kariya, 587 assists
Still in February, Henrik collected two assists in the final three minutes of regulation of the Canucks' comeback shootout loss to Chicago.  Kariya obviously represents a more well-rounded offensive player, having scored 402 career goals.  And it'll be several seasons more until the Henrik passes the North Vancouver native's overall points total of 989.  Nonetheless, Kariya was an elite playmaker in his own right and Henrik surpassed him in that regard in about 80 fewer games.

Doug Wilson and Dave Keon, 590 assists
It was with his highlight reel dump-in pass that Henrik eclipsed both the Sharks current general manager and the former Leafs Hall of Famer with his 591st assist.  Nevermind Detroit's six subsequent goals in the embarassing 8-3 final.  What's a 5-goal drubbing when Henrik can bank the puck off the end boards from his side of centre to spring Daniel on a breakaway?  Perspective, folks...perspective.  Speaking of which, if he could only have waited four games, he could have achieved the feat against the Sharks with Wilson in attendance.  *Assists on a Burrows goal and points to Sharks press box in triumph.*

Dino Ciccarelli, 592 assists
Despite a Flames loss on March 3, Henrik recorded his 593rd career helper to surpass the stout Hall of Famer's assist total for the 77th spot.  While Henrik may be scoring at his highest rate since 2009-10, Ciccarelli's 608 career goals, on the hand, seems slightly out of reach...

Alexei Kovalev, 599 assists
Obviously motivated by preserving his assists total to Henrik's onslaught, Kovalev secured a one-year deal with the Panthers after a successful January tryout.  To that effect, he recorded his 599th and final career assist on February 16.  After being made a healthy scratch by the Panthers several games later, however, Kovalev announced his retirement in late-March.  Cue Henrik's 600th and 601st assists in another game against the Flames on April 4.  The Canucks offered this montage in celebration of the 600-mark milestone.  I hear Kovalev was asked to comment on just how elusive the feat can be.  I hear he declined.

Glenn Anderson, 601 assists
The Flames have been good to Henrik this season.  In five games against the division rivals this season, Henrik has totalled a goal and six assists.  No surprise then that he surpassed another former great against the Flames last Wednesday, one-upping 2010 Hall of Famer Glenn Anderson with his 602nd assist.

Kirk Muller, 602 assists
Later that game, Daniel finished a give-and-go with Henrik, helping the elder Sedin eclipse Kirk Muller for 74th all-time.

Five days later and Henrik's in 73rd.  At his current assist rate (30 in 42 games), he would be on pace for 58 over a full 82 games and within striking distance of Peter Forsberg's 66th-best 636 assists.  While Forsberg produced at a far greater clip than Henrik has over his career, the fellow Swede is probably the most comparable to the Canucks captain in terms of pure playmaking ability than any of the nine players surpassed this season.  And what Henrik lacks in sheer production compared to Forsberg, he makes up for in longevity.  For that reason, Henrik will be far beyond his higher-profile countryman by the time his career's up.

With a career average of 52 assists per season, it's not difficult to imagine Henrik hitting the 800-mark within four or five years, a feat that only 29 have accomplished.  (To put that into perspective, the 500-goal club is constituted by 42 players.)  And while his pace will have likely slowed considerably by then, each subsequent assist would inch him closer to the likes of Denis Savard (865 assists) and Gilbert Perreault (814).  A small measure of revenge for that whole Dale Tallon mishap, perhaps?

Let's not get ahead of ourselves.  For now, here's to 73rd overall and a 5-2 win in the process.



  1. Great Read! I enjoyed it, well written.

  2. Awesome as always. Looking forward to seeing the playoff write-ups!